by Bill Snyder

Dirty Secrets of Popular Printers

Aug 09, 20123 mins
Computers and PeripheralsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Paper jams, wasted ink, too much noise and scanners that don't work. Why oh why is something as basic as a low-cost printer so hard to find?

Printers aren’t sexy and they’re not all that much fun to use. But when you need one, you just want it to work without jamming, or wasting expensive ink or making a racket. Is that too much to ask? Sadly, it seems to be.

A Q&A Web site called FixYa scooped up data from more than 15 million reports filed by its users to compile a list of the most common problems encountered by owners of inexpensive popular printers, including some models from HP, Epson, Canon and Kodak. The users found problems such as paper jams, profligate use of ink, scanning issues, poor print quality and more.

That’s not to say these popular printers should be avoided, but you ought to know what you’re getting for your hard-earned cash. We should also note that users of sites like FixYa are more motivated to complain than award laurels. Let’s take a look at the highlights (or are they low lights?) If you want to see the entire report, including some suggested fixes, click here. The prices are what I found on the Web this week, but those prices could change.


HP Photosmart 6510 (About $120)

Users liked the easy setup and touch-screen capabilities of the Photosmart. But they were understandably upset about the noise level, which they described as “a deafening racket,” and “not suitable for office use.” I’m not sure that I’d want a deafening racket in my home, but that’s up to you. Users also complained that they had trouble using the Photosmart’s wireless capabilities.

Epson Stylus NX430 ($90 to $100)

It takes as much as five minutes to startup, photo paper jams and you can’t use it to scan objects wirelessly and import them onto your computer. The report includes a good workaround for the scan problem.

Canon Pixma MX882 ($135 to well over $200)

FixYa says it wouldn’t necessarily avoid this printer, but I have no such hesitation based on the report. The MX882 “burns through ink at a ferocious pace, uses expensive ink, has issues feeding paper into the dual trays, has a long boot time and slow print performance.” Yikes!

Kodak ESP 9250 ($105 and up)

Kodak is no longer an innovative company (duh, it filed for bankruptcy this year) and this printer shows it. “It’s functional, it’s fine, but doesn’t innovate and it certainly doesn’t do things other printers on this list do.” Problems include damaging the paper when printing, making too much noise, sucking up ink, and printing too slowly.